Micropost: 2007 Dodge Landrover

Excuse my deliberately wrong headline. Dodge sold this one as the Nitro, on the same platform as the Jeep Rendition*.

2007 Dodge Nitrolander: very simple surfaces.

It does look like they followed the same playbook as the 2002 Range Rover L322. It also looks like the pencil line thickness on the drawing guided the depth and breadth of the wheel arch lip grooves. It resembles a car to be seen from a good distance.

Didn’t Giugiario once ask about the TR7 “Don’t tell me they did that on the other side”? What I think about the Nitro is that the front and back are exactly like the sides. “Don’t tell me they did that on the front and back too.” Well, they did. That’s, in a way, a kind of compliment. It’s very consistent. You don’t need to see either end once you’ve seen the side.

The 2007 Nitro has the especial distinction of being the first Dodge-branded car to be sold in Europe. It appeared at the same time as the Liberty/Cherokee and Dieter Zetsche’s announcement that Mercedes would be ending its less than stellar relationship with Chrysler. That detail goes some way towards explaining its rarity. I don’t think I have seen one before.

While its dimensions say moderate size, the ultra-butch looks, 1800 kg weight and absurd choice of 3.7 and 4.0 litre V6 engines say “Don’t buy me”. A 2.7 diesel L4 from VM Motori could also be had – thus the Nitro really had one not-very-desirable engine to make its case. VM Motori are worth a further look – why do they exist?

*another satirical error.


Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

15 thoughts on “Micropost: 2007 Dodge Landrover”

  1. Well, we can lay the blame for this turkey entirely on the super brainpower of Dieter Zetschke, who ran Chrysler as a Mercedes fiefdom during the vehicle’s gestation, which sold like ice cram at the North Pole following introduction and lasted four years on the market.

    Known here primarily as a circus clown with a ridiculous mustache who couldn’t help himself speaking like a German colonel from a bad WW2 movie while looking like an eccentric British butterfly chaser, he made one bad TV commercial after another. Completely unknown by Europeans, MB managed to lose over $37 billion on its Chrysler misadventure, not counting the fact that it lost even more in real terms by gutting Chrysler’s resources as well.

    My test drive of the CLA a few years ago told me all I needed to know about these geniuses. Haven’t got much time for them, frankly, and yes, it’s a personal opinion. Their caving in to German authorities this past week by admitting to collusion meetings with VW and BMW on supplier prices, so as to be first to do so and thus only being fined 50% of the normal penalties for their ratfink whistle-blowing only cements my feeling about this lot of self-admitted geniuses and ethics-missing losers.


    1. And then there’s Gorden (sic), too…

      MB’s current wave of success is fiscally indisputable, but I maintain that (Dr) Zee lacks any proper understanding of the product side of the automotive business. The spectacularly bad Chrysler group models signed off during his tenure at that company’s helm alone would illustrate the point, but I’d go as far as claiming that each GLA/CLA/A 19 (whatever) AMG sold to yet another burnout enthusiast (as they all are, in fact) eats away at Mercedes-Benz’ core brand values. Sell today, pay tomorrow – in brand equity.

    2. Dr Zee exemplifies the peculiar habit of some German people of copying British style and getting it wrong. What Zetsch certainly is is an alpha-male in his troupe. Only a very confident person will have the nerve to sport a “peacock’s tail” of a moustache such as his. That said, it’s overconfidence if it means launching a duffer like the Nitro (well-styled though). Clearly Mercedes/Chrysler weren’t co-ordinating their products. And nobody knows what Dodge is for anyway. I expect dealers asked for a Jeepy car and were given a Nitro when they just should have sold another Jeep.

  2. I’ve always loved the styling of this car, it appeals to my inner ten year old. It looks exactly like something a ten year old would have drawn, and for that I’m forever thankful. It takes some playfulness to be so unashamedly American and aggressive, it kinda look like a Tonka Truck or something like that.

    1. I agree. The car’s styling is exactly as an American off roader should be. A shame then that a lack of engine choices and a fairly nasty interior scuppered its prospects in Europe. That said, the Nitro’s complete lack of impact means they can be bought very cheaply now.

    2. I had to re-read my article so as to not contradict myself because I can’t decide if I like it or not. On balance I think the styling is pretty good and would have been better if it had had a Jeep front instead of a Dodge fascia. It also needed a 2.0 and 3.0 litre engine not the ones offered.

    3. I like the Nitro´s design too. It looks boxy, solid and american. Like a Reval ohne Filter in a sea of all those Marlboro, Camel and Gauloises Blond mild filter cigarrettes.

      But my admiration for the Nitro ends when i open the door. It is such a mix of grey plastics of the cheapest quality and refinement that is hard to accept, even if you like a simple and unsophisticated interior. I could not imagine that an interior would be alble to give a stronger impression of missing quality…but then i entered the Dodge Caliber….

    4. Styling: the Nitro’s probably the result of a load of “useless work” to make it look this simple. See our Toyota discussion. The Nitro appears as if the designer wants us to see a long body, big wheels and really secure cabin (big radii on the chromeless window apertures).

    5. Markus: the Calibre is from the same school of crude interior design. I feel sorry for the exterior designer as they put a lot of effort into the body that is not followed through on the interior. Blue gray plastic, quite shiny. It was better than the P/T Cruiser though (faint praise).

  3. Richard – “VM Motori are worth a further look – why do they exist?”

    They’re dieselmakers – until a couple of years ago it was thought that the dieselmakers would inherit the earth.

    Along with the likes of FEV, AVL, and Ricardo, the erstwhile Vancini e Martelli were discreetly designing the infernal – or inspirational – machines for just about everybody. VM makes them too, the only (sort of) independent passenger car diesel maker left, unless you include Kunming Yunnei Power.

    The company and its engines certainly deserve a look. The ownership history suggests a web of industrial intrigue.

    1971 – Finmeccanica, thereby counting Alfa Romeo, Agusta, and Aeritalia as stablemates.
    1995 – Detroit Diesel.
    2003 – DaimlerChrysler / Penske (49/51)
    2007 – GM / Penske (50/50)
    2011 – GM / FCA (50/50)

    The road vehicle part of Detroit Diesel is currently wholly owned by Daimler AG.

    On which matter, I’ve been at close quarters with Dr.Z on a couple of occasions and my impressions matched with what I’ve been told by others. He seemed to be a charming, but rather introverted man, well-liked by others in the industry. In the eyes of the board and a grateful nation, he’s obviously doing many things right. He’s been forgiven for the Chrysler debacle – compare the bloodbath at Milbertshofen after the Rover unpleasantness – and has had his contract extended well beyond the normal retirement age for top-level German management.

    That said, there’s nothing Daimler make which I like, never mind desire.

  4. My Nitro was 2007. A company car. I received many positive comments about its look. The interior beat me to death, not comfortable. I did put 225,000 miles on it in 5 years. Held a decent resale value even with all those miles.

    1. Having looked at a C&D review, I see they liked it too. I’d love to know how and why it takes such big displacement engines to shove these things around though. So, were they adequately succesful in the market in the US?

  5. They were successful in the U.S. I believe styling provided the major draw. There was something retro, unique about the vehicle. We like large displacement engines. Chrysler is deep into re-establishing muscle for the U.S. market. The interior was a disaster. I have never felt so cramped in a vehicle. Strangely, I had to drive it for a while before I really noticed just how constricted the seats felt. As I stated, I used it for work and I drive 40-50K miles a year. Over the last year I experienced many electrical issues.

    1. It’s not actually very big, but styled tough. I can see the draw with the not-too-butch but robust appearance. It probably is as roomy as a 2002 VW Polo though which is why I want to know *why* a 3.6 litre engine is needed. Torque?
      It’s a shame about the interior quality. Now I need to find some photos to check …

    2. Interior: pure 2002. That means constant sections and sharp junctions, the “vernacular” style of the time. The flat seats troubled me; the general appearance did not.
      Whatever about it’s general position in the Chrysler portfolio, it seems like a decent enough product and not expensive.

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